Clarkston Mayor Beverly H. Burks was among seven community leaders to participate in the campaign.
CLARKSTON—As part of its continuing efforts to increase the Clarkston community’s confidence in and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, the Prevention Research Center at Georgia State University, in collaboration with the Dekalb County Board of Health, has launched the “Get Your Vaccine Today” poster campaign on Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) bus shelters in Clarkston. The vaccine education and awareness campaign encourages residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has endorsed the first updated COVID-19 booster shots. The booster shots target both the original strain of the coronavirus and the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants that most people are catching now. This double-barreled vaccine is called a bivalent vaccine.
Data shows that 70.8% of Clarkston residents are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 vs. 50.5% in comparable areas. That’s the highest vaccination rate in Georgia compared to other areas with the same Social Vulnerability Index (SVI), according to the Georgia Department of Health Vaccine Distribution Dashboard (as of September 12, 2022).
But there are still many residents who are not fully vaccinated or boosted. “We are seeing the confirmed COVID-19 cases increasing, which means we cannot lose focus,” said Clarkston Mayor Beverly H. Burks. “As we move into flu season, we must remain vigilant about continuing to wear our masks and getting vaccinated.”
The campaign ads are located in ten different MARTA Bus Shelters featuring seven trusted Clarkston community leaders including Burks, Dr. Scott Keller, Medical Director of Grace Village Medical Clinic, and Indian Creek Elementary School Principal Stephanie Brown-Bryant.
Brown-Bryant said the campaign aligns with Indian Creek’s goals to keep its students and community safe. “Our staff and students are dedicated to maintaining a safe and nurturing environment, which includes sharing the most up-to-date information about overall wellness,” said Brown-Bryant. “As we learned and shared information about vaccinations, we hoped that others would also identify measures to keep their loved ones safe, which may include vaccinations.”
Public transportation is a much-used mode of transportation in the Clarkston community. The “Get Your Vaccine Today” awareness and education campaign offers an opportunity to reach bus riders, pedestrians, and Clarkston residents through a combination of bus shelter ads, media outreach, digital engagement, and grassroots outreach.
By launching a micro-targeted public health campaign and building trust with different ethnic and cultural communities, Iris Feinberg, Co-Investigator and Director for Dissemination and Translation at the Prevention Research Center at Georgia State University, said the campaign has the power to get the right message to the right people at the right time.
“We’ve learned three key motivating factors for improving vaccine confidence in Clarkston – highlighting trusted sources, making sure messaging is created using health literacy and plain language guidelines, and ensuring that our messages are culturally and linguistically responsive for each audience segment,” she said.
Each community leaders’ personalized message encourages Clarkston and Dekalb County residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and will be translated into multiple languages according to location and population: Arabic, Amharic, Burmese, Dari, Pashto, Somali, Spanish, Swahili and Tigrinya.
The “Get Your Vaccine Today” campaign includes a QR Code with a link to the Prevention Research Center’s website listing CORE Georgia’s (Community Organized Relief Effort) local weekly mobile vaccination site schedules. CORE Georgia, in partnership with International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Atlanta and the Dekalb County Board of Health, provides free COVID-19 vaccines to everyone throughout the state of Georgia. COVID-19 Vaccines are available to everyone aged 5 and over—first, second and booster doses. Only the Pfizer vaccine is authorized and recommended for children 5 – 17 years old. For adults aged 18 and older, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are available at all sites. Walk-ups are available at all sites, and people can also register in advance. Vaccines are available for those with and without insurance. Interpretation is available.
The CDC advisers recommended that anyone age 12 and older get the new Pfizer-BioNTech boosters as authorized by the Food and Drug Administration. The updated Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for anyone 18 and older.
The “Get Your Vaccine Today” campaign is funded by the Vaccine Confidence Network, a CDC-funded project across its 26 national Prevention Research Centers. The purpose of the VCN is to increase vaccine confidence in the refugee, immigrant and migrant (RIM) communities and the African American community of Clarkston, Georgia.
According to the Dekalb County Board of Health, children and teens who have already had COVID-19 should still get vaccinated. Emerging evidence indicates that people can get added protection by getting vaccinated after having been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Even if a child has had COVID-19, they should still get vaccinated. For children who have been infected with COVID-19, their next dose can be delayed 3 months from when symptoms started or, if they did not have symptoms, when they received a positive test. This possible delay can happen with a primary dose or a booster dose.
About the Prevention Research Center
The Georgia State University Prevention Research Center is headquartered on the Clarkston Campus at Perimeter College. The PRC works with community organizations, state and local government, residents and other partners in Clarkston, Ga., to develop, implement and evaluate culturally and linguistically appropriate interventions to address the disparities and determinants of health for migrants and refugees and to disseminate this work at the community, state and national levels.
For more information and for details about upcoming events, please visit https://prc.gsu.edu
Story and photos by Julie Roseman